Reddick finally gets a taste of his own medicine

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Reddick finally gets a taste of his own medicine

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The A's have won eight games in walk-off fashion this season. That is a lot of forcibly administered whipped cream pies and water cooler showers. When the walk-off hero experiences the sweet taste of victory via a pie smash to the face, it is always Josh Reddick on the other end of the plate.As a result, Reddick knew he was doomed when he launched a game-ending double in the 13th inning to beat the Mariners 2-1."I don't mind it. I can dish it and I can take it," Reddick said after a long shower. "I was just happy it was me for once. It feels good to be on the receiving end."Well, what goes around comes around. Reddick was nailed with two coolers of iced liquid and two whipped cream pies. One pie came courtesy of Kurt Suzuki, the other from Jemile Weeks, who scored the game winning run on Reddick's double. "We couldn't wait," Weeks said. "He deserved it, he deserved everything." Reddick was lucky he wasn't eaten alive by seagulls after being made to look like a dessert item in the post game celebration. As the game lingered on into the late afternoon, more and more seagulls started circling and dive bombing at the Oakland Coliseum. With the sun, cloudless sky, and birds everywhere, it got so bad that it was actually hard for players to see balls hit into the air. "Oh, you could see them," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was like the movie The Birds.""You've got the white baseballs with the white seagulls out there, you have to distinguish between the two sometimes with the sun," Weeks said. "At the end of the day we fought through the seagulls and made it happen." The A's first run was driven in by Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning. He then stole second base, spraining his left thumb. Cespedes was taken out of the game prior to the fourth inning. According to Melvin, the A's medical staff thinks the All-Star break will be enough time for his thumb to heal. As of now, a return to the disabled list for Cespedes doesn't appear likely."He is literally day to day," Melvin said. "I'm not really sure how he is going to feel tomorrow. He is going to have four days off and hopefully he is good to go." The A's wouldn't have been in a position to win if it wasn't for an efficient performance from Bartolo Colon. The veteran right-handed pitcher threw 93 pitches -- just 14 balls -- in 8.2 innings of work. He threw a first-pitch strike to 32 of the 34 batters he faced. He walked no one, and allowing one earned run. "It was difficult to take him out of the game emotionally," Melvin said. "He pitched so well and wanted it so bad. He gave us everything we could possibly expect. He never ceases to amaze. He is a pretty remarkable guy."Colon out-dueled Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez, who lasted 7.2 innings with one earned run. When the game was handed over to the bullpens, the A's had the advantage. A combination of Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Grant Balfour, and Jordan Norberto threw 4.1 innings of two-hit ball. The collection of pitchers struck out five batters and walked no one. The A's pitching staff went 13 innings without issuing a walk, the first time that has happened in Athletics history since 1927. At 43-43 the A's enter the All-Star break with a .500 record for the first time since 2008. They are just 2.5 games back in the American League Wild Card standings. They are 16-10 in games decided in the seventh inning or later. "We're a lot more battle tested," Melvin said. "I think we expect to play games like that."

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

HOUSTON — If the A’s eventually want to return to the American League West mountaintop, they got a good look at the team they’ll have to conquer.

The Astros boast one of the majors’ most talented and athletic rosters, with enough of a youthful core to suggest they’ll be battling for division supremacy for years to come. They took two of three from Oakland at Minute Maid Park, capped by Sunday’s 7-2 decision in which left-hander Dallas Keuchel held the A’s to just three hits over 7 2/3 innings.

The loss ended a season-opening stretch in which the A’s played 22 of their first 25 against AL West foes. They saw every team in the division at least once, going 9-13 in that stretch and 11-14 overall for the month of April.

It’s tough to glean too much from one month of play, but the Astros (16-9) so far are living up to the hype that stems from several notable offseason additions they made. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Angels, with Oakland and Texas both five games back and Seattle 5 1/2 back.

Before the A’s bother worrying about who they have to knock off at the top, there are baby steps to conquer.

They need to generate some consistent offense, which has been lacking in their 1-5 start to this nine-game road trip. With that in mind, they’ll gladly welcome back center fielder Rajai Davis, who is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and rejoin the lineup Tuesday in Minnesota.

Also Tuesday, Sonny Gray will make his 2017 debut after missing the first four weeks with a strained lat muscle in his right side. One of the primary April storylines for the A’s involved the players they lost to injury. Now, they at least draw some optimism from the ones they’ll welcome back.

“We need to get these guys back,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been leaning on (backup center fielder) Jaff Decker a little harder than we need to. You get Raj back doing his thing at the top of the lineup and get your No. 1 pitcher back, hopefully this is a trend on an upward swing as far as getting players back, as opposed to losing them like we have been.”

Jesse Hahn, who took Sunday’s loss, could eventually be out of a rotation spot with Gray’s return. But that decision gets delayed with fellow starter Sean Manaea having just joined the 10-day disabled list with a strained shoulder.

Hahn was solid Sunday, going six innings and allowing four runs (two earned). But he got a taste of the diverse ways that Houston can beat a pitcher. The Astros have speed, as they showed in the first inning when George Springer beat out an infield single and scored all the way from first on Carlos Correa’s double.

They also have run producers up and down the batting order. Evan Gattis, who clubbed 32 homers last season, hit seventh Sunday and drove an RBI double to left that just missed being a two-run homer.

“One through nine, it’s a solid lineup over there,” Hahn said. “You can’t take any pitches off, any at-bats off. You’ve almost got to treat every guy the same or they can hurt you.”

Catcher Josh Phegley says the A’s have a good read on the rest of the division and the challenge that sits before him and his teammates.

“We’ve seen the teams we’re gonna face most of the year. We get a feel for their bullpen, some of the subs they make during the game,” he said. “I like the way our team stacks up against everyone else.”

But the A’s have their work cut out. Last year, they were 13-12 at the end of April, just 1 1/2 games out of first place before eventually finishing in the cellar. As they begin this May, they are three games under .500 and already five games out.

Help is on the way with the return of Gray and Davis. Now the A’s need to parlay that into some victories.

 

Instant Replay: Too much Keuchel, A's drop series to Astros

Instant Replay: Too much Keuchel, A's drop series to Astros

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON – The A’s got a sampling of what’s made Dallas Keuchel one of the majors’ top pitchers through the first month.

The Astros lefty pitched into the eighth and allowed just one Athletic to advance past first base as Oakland absorbed a 7-2 loss in the rubber game of this weekend series at Minute Maid Park.

After an off-year in 2016, Keuchel has regained his 2015 Cy Young-winning form, becoming the American League’s first five-game winner of 2017. He held the A’s to three hits over 7 2/3 innings, as the A’s fell to 1-5 so far on this three-city road trip. They’ve been held to two or fewer runs in five of their past seven games.

Jesse Hahn (1-2) turned in a quality start for the A’s, going six innings and giving up four runs (two earned) on eight hits. The Astros got a run off him in the first when George Springer beat out an infield hit and scored from first on Carlos Correa’s double down the left-field line. Evan Gattis’ double off the top of the left field wall scored another run in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

Then a key play came in the fifth. Brian McCann hit a sharp bouncer toward first that took a big hop and got past Ryon Healy for a two-run single and a four-run cushion that Keuchel (5-0) wasn’t going to let slip away.

The A’s closed April with an 11-14 record and trail first-place Houston by five games

Starting pitching report

With Sonny Gray returning from the disabled list, Hahn is trying to prove he deserves to stick in the rotation moving forward. He was coming off an outstanding performance in Anaheim, when he held the Angels to one hit over eight innings. He wasn’t as sharp Sunday, but he wasn’t terrible either. The right-hander struck out six and didn’t issue a walk, but his command betrayed him a bit in the fourth. With one out, he hit Yuli Gurriel with a pitch and then advanced him to second with a wild pitch. Hahn fell behind Gattis 3-1 when the A’s killer hit a run-scoring double to left that fell just a few feet short of being a home run. The Astros’ two-run rally in the fifth was aided by Josh Reddick reaching base on yet another catchers’ interference play. Stephen Vogt was called for the infraction twice Friday night with Reddick hitting. Josh Phegley was behind the plate Sunday.

Bullpen report

Any thoughts of an A’s ninth-inning comeback were dashed when Frankie Montas served up a three-run homer to Marwin Gonzalez in the bottom of the eighth. Oakland’s bullpen has surrendered 16 runs in 15 2/3 innings against the Astros this season for a 9.19 ERA.

At the plate

The A’s offense got cranking too little too late. Trailing 4-0 in the eighth, Adam Rosales singled and eventually came around to score on Ryon Healy’s two-out single. Rosales aided the rally with a steal of second base, which snapped a string of eight games without a stolen base for Oakland. They’re expecting to welcome Rajai Davis back from the disabled list Tuesday, and his speed is certainly needed with the offense scuffling. Down 7-1 in the ninth, Josh Phegley doubled and scored on Chad Pinder’s single. The A’s loaded the bases with two outs, prompting Astros manager A.J. Hinch to call on closer Ken Giles to retire Yonder Alonso for the final out.

In the field

Phegley’s catchers’ interference call went down as the game’s only error.

Attendance

The turnout was 34,880.

Up next

The A’s wrap this nine-game road trip with three at Minnesota. They went 4-2 against the Twins last year. Sonny Gray will make his first start of the season in Tuesday’s 5:10 opener, opposed by Ervin Santana (4-0, 0.77). Wednesday — Kendall Graveman (2-1, 2.25) vs. lefty Hector Santiago (2-1, 2.43), 5:10 p.m. Thursday — Jharel Cotton (2-3, 5.00) vs. Kyle Gibson (0-3, 8.06), 10:10 a.m.